OUR GLORIOUS PAST
A unique record of history
Ours is the only place in the world that has a recorded history of 5188 years before us as reliable books, which are credible and hence believable. In this direction a compilation of manuscripts by Munshi Muhammad Din Fouq in 1910 has been a great contribution.
An Independent region
The valley of Kashmir has always been independent of the history of India from the begining of governance. Before advent of Muslim rule in Kashmir, the country was governed by Brahmans, non-Brahmans and Buddhists etc. Sir Mark Aurel Stein in his English translation of The Rajtarangini has recorded a detailed account of this period. However a brief sketch is being presented here.
The available histories tell us that there was no population in Kashmir at first. On the other hand it was a lake surrounded by mountains and full of water called Satisar. The Sati lake was special and favorite resort of Mahadevji. The basis of nomenclature is also the name of Satiji, who enamoured of the lake stayed here for a very long time. From the signs found at some mountains it is proved that boats were used to enjoy the scenery of the lake. Holes were bored in to big boulders for tying the boats, which to this day are called boat-holders. Such a boat-holder is at a place near Shopian called Nobugnai. This place is sacred to Hindus. At many other places there are such holes which tell us that sometimes the boats might have reached the tops of these mountains. This could be possible only if this beautiful land was under water.
The legend and the nomenclature
The legend says that a cannibal giant Jaladhbhava lived in the lake who would come out and kill people in adjoining areas and torment them with loot and plunder. It is said that the cursed fellow had the blessings of the Brahma that, till he remained under water no one could kill him. Therefore he continued his tyranny in Satisar area. No enemy however big would be able to harm him. And then in Dwapur-Yug the grand-son of Brahma, Kashyapa Rishi, came to visit the temples of India and reached this place also. When he reached Lotir village near Rajouri (according to Khwaja Azam Dedamari- historian), he stayed at Koh Shir.The same mountain is named Hamar in Gulzar-i-Kashmir, where the people saw his grandeur and spiritual prowess, the oppressed people gathered near him and told him the blood-soaked story of the tyrannies of the giant. On this his sense of honor was aroused and he consoled them and sent them away. He himself went to Birhapur and resolved to end the tyranny of the tyrant. He sat at a safe place near the boat-holder. He engaged himself in worship for the elimination of Jaladbhav. It is said that after several years Lord Shiva felt compassion for him, his devotion and sincerity and asked Bishan and Brahma to punish Jaladbhava but arresting him was not an easy task. A bloody battle ensued for many years yet nothing could be achieved. The defence of Jaladhbhav was very strong and Bishan and Brahma could not succeed. He would hide in the lake at the time of trouble. In the end they decided to dry the Satisar before killing him. Bishan cut the piece of mountain that had fallen in to water and stopped the flow of water near Baramulla, with a ploughshare. This drained the water and the dry land appeared. The land that appeared first is called Udoor and reminds us of the incident to this day. Even this did not make Bishan completely successful because some deep pits still held water and Jaladbhav hid himself in these. But the water was not so deep that it would hinder Bishan and Brhama. Bishan brought a piece of Sameer mountain and placed it on the top of the pit in which Jaladbhav was hiding. This crushed Jaladbhav to death. This is the place where Kohi Maran (Heri Parbhat) is situated now. According to the legend the mountain is piece of Samir mountain, which reminds us of the wickedness of Jaladbhav. After this event the Satisar had to abondon its ocean-like shape and become a dry land for ever. After a long time the place became a charming land and Kashyap Rishi thought of populating it. From the countries far and near some saintly people (Brahmins) who resembled Kashyap Rishi in worship and spirituality, were brought by him and settled here. Some believe that these were Katyacharya, Mantacharya and Atbacharya- the three brothers who founded this charming region. From these times this colony was named after its founder as Kashyapsar or Kashmir.(Mir meaning house , that is the house of Kashyap. It is also believed that the name of the wife of Kashyap Rishi was ‘Mir’, therefore the place was called after both of them as Kashyap Mir. With changes in the pronunciation it became Kashmir.)
Some experts relate the name Kashmir and Kashap Reshi to Kashghar, Kashan, Kash tribe and Ka-Syria ( like Syria) etc.
Some literary experts say that the basis of the nomenclature are the Sanskrit words; ‘Ka’ means water and ‘Shemar’ means draining. Since the water of Satisar was drained, it was called Kashmir. It is an established fact that the land was populated for more than 5000 years. The other reality is that 2042 years ago before Christ, the city of Sandimatnagar was submerged by the wrath of God during the reign of Sunder Sen. (The city was situated at the place where the Wular lake exists these days). In this deluge a large part of Kamraj had come under water. about half the valley of Kashmir remained under water for 760 years. 1282 years BC, during the rule of King Narendra, when Hazrat Sulaiman came to this region and stayed here. the king and his subjects both seeing the splendour, asked him to do something for water. He got the area drained and again colonized it. Due to non availability of history of Ratnagir, most of the historians are ignorant of this fact. since they have heard of the draining of the water by Hazrat Sulaiman, they make him the source of draining the Satisar also, which is quite contrary to facts. Some historians have named the area as Bagh-i-Sulaiman and Takht-i-Sulaiman is believed to have landed on the top of Zabarwan hills also called Koh-i-Sulaiman (later named as Shankaracharya hill).
Before Kashyap Reshi reached here, there is evidence of population existing here, who brought the tyranny of Jaladbhav to the notice of Kashyap Rishi. The traces of habitation before lake-like conditions are also available. In ancient times there was no permanent habitation here and there were no villages and cities because due to heavy snowfall, it was extremely impossible to live here during winter. More so when the necessary arrangements for protection during the winters were absent. History is witness that Kashmir was a resort for people during summer.
There has been habitation before the Brahmins were brought by Kashyap Reshi. They are mentioned as Chiefs and Kings in Brahat Katha as Bhanandan Dasehnandan; Suraj Verma in the Gita; Darya Dev in Nilmat Puran and Visho Maksh, Partap Bhalu etc. in other Puranas being rulers of this period. The historical details of these kings are not available. Only it is known that during the reign of Darya Dev there was a permanent habitation here. From some histories and archaelogical finds it is known that King Ramchandarji also had arrived in Kashmir.
There are many other ancient places, that prove clearly that there was a good population in Kashmir even before it became the Satisar. from the very beginning Kashmir was not like a pond but was a vast plain where there were springs and rivers at various places. The present river Veth (Vitasta) which is called the Jhelum in Punjab irrigated Punjab with water from Kashmir and Kaghan. Baramulla onwards the flow of Jhelum shows that this river passed through mountains and natural passes in ancient times also and entered Punjab. From the Vedas it is clear that its water benefited the people of this area before the Aryans arrived in Punjab. The Aryans also benefited from this river. It is not known what was the name of this country at the beginning, but it has been found that this region served as a pasture. at the beginning of the spring season; the inhabitants of adjacent area and shepherds, would come here along with their cattle and sheep. They would enjoy and avail themselves of its greenery, meadows and fertile lush land and return to their countries before the advent of winter. There are many clans of gujjars even now, who according to ancient practice, go to hilly areas of Kashmir in summer along with their families and cattle and return in winter to their countries. there is a unanimous opinion about this period that for ages it was the fashion of the times that people would go there during summer and return in winter.
The legend has it that once a man named Chandra Dev could not return due to his old age and resultant weakness of his body. (The author of Rajtarangni describes this thus: When the decrepit old man was left alone by his dependents, he stayed in a cave. When the winter rains started and the roads were blocked, the ogres and geniis flocked to this country and started plundering all over. They were surprised seeing a human being in the city deserts. One of the ogres stood in Kamraj area and another in Maraj, twety leagues away and brought this poor soul out of the cave and tossed him like a ball. In one of the attempts he fell in to the Neel Nag spring. He saw that there was a door at the bottom of the spring. When he opened the door and went ahead he saw a vast piece of ground and quite a new world was living in it. There was a magnificient city in this world. Chandra Dev marched towards the population, when he reached there he was unnerved on seeing the frightful visages of the people living there. He took them for dieties, Soon he saw a royal court and somehow reached there. He saw that King Neel Nag was holding court with great pomp and show and petitioners had come to complain against the tyranny of the giants. He said that he was a human being, who lived in Kashmir during summer and went to warmer places in winter. The things they left there such as food, grains, etc., the giants plundered in winter. In addition to this he told the king of his own plight. The king felt mercy on him and gave him the book Neelmat Puran, authored by him and directed him, his people should act according to the instructions given in that book and to place a sumptuous feast every month for the giants at a separate place as gift. The giants would not harm them then. 12 such feasts for the year called ‘shrad’, the followers of Neelmat Puran offered for a long time. He issued another order for giants, which he handed over to Chandra Dev and accompanied by his own men to his abode. After this was done and by following the instructions of the Neelmat Puran, the severity in snowfall also reduced and the people were saved from the tyranny of the giants. The king was called Raja Neel Nag. The Kashmiris were of the opinion that the kings live in natural springs, who seemingly resemble snakes. They believed that if this king is arrested, the spring dries up. The same story is told about drying up of Neel Nag spring. It is told that in modern times that a magician from Bengal arrested Neel Nag king by using opium and took him to Rajputana. By this action the spring dried up and another spring appeared in Rajputana.
It is also stated that after Chandra Dev passed his winter in the cave on his release from Neel Nag episode, when his dependents and fellow country men came to Kashmir they were surprised and happy to see the old man alive and safe. Chandra Dev narrated his story and gave the Neelmat Puran to the Chief of nation Daya Dev and persuaded them to have faith in it as ordained by the king Neelnag. Although Chandra Dev being alive had convinced them all of the facts still as a precaution he left a few people behind the next year also and returned himself along with others.. When the next year he found all the people alive, safe and secure, Daya Dev also believed in Neelmat Puran and stayed along with his companions in Kashmir.
The unknown period
These people lived for a long time but no information about their culture and style of living could be found by historians. Only this much is known that these people had learnt to obey their tribe and its Chief. The names of some of these Chiefs who ruled like Daya Dev have been recorded. They resembled the present day Central African people. After some time and 3899 years BC, the Noah.s deluge took place, which annihalated the tribe of Daya Dev and transformed Kashmir into a lake later called Satisar. If the mountain that had fallen in to it near Baramulla and blocked water were not broken by the efforts of Kashyapa Reshi, the charming heaven-like piece of land would have remained as a lake for ever. The world would have missed all the soothing climate of the place for ever.
The recorded period
The The authentic histories show that when after Daya Dev, Kashmir of Kashyap Reshi was colonised, there was a system of democratic rule after which the governing body brought Daya Karan the son of King Puran Karan of Jammu for running the government. According to Kalhana Pandit the reign of king Govanand the third, a total of 52 kings ruled the country. Before this three kings of Jammu dynasty ruled this land. After king Somdut was killed in the war of Kurukshetra, king Okanand of another dynasty sat on the throne. King Okanand was the king of Kashmir 20 years before Kalyug and 3121 years before Christ. Thus we have found the events of 5888 years. The government of Kashmir starts from Jammu dynasty and from 3180 BC to 1324 AD viz. 4504 years Hindu kings ruled this country with pomp and show. Some of these kings were so renowned that their conquests commanded respect in India, Turkey and Afghanistan. The dynasties that ruled were The Gonanda, The Pandu, The Maurya, the Kushana, The White Huns, The Karkota, The Lohara etc. During this period Kashmir remained safe from outer invasions. (In1700 BC king Bhikam of Ujjain invaded Kashmir during the reign of king Baldev but was defeated). Sultan Mahmood Ghaznavi also could not succeed in 1120 AD, but after 300 years of this incident Zulchu invaded Kashmir in 1323 AD and disturbed peace of thousands of years. Then the government of the country went out of the hands of Hindus in the next year and fell into the hands of Muslims. The world came to know that Kashmir was not impregnable as it was presumed to be, thereafter foreign invasions continued. the invasions of Mirza Haidar and Mirza Kamran and others made the country so weak that it opened the doors for Jalal-ud-din Mohammad Akbar, the Emperor of India. There-after the Chughtai dynasty Ahmad Shah Abdali conquered the country. Thus Muslims ruled here for 494 years i.e. from 1325 to 1819 AD. In 1819 AD Maharaja Ranjit Singh, the Lion of Punjab conquered it and included it in Khalsa government. at last the English gave the charming region to Maharaja Gulab Singh, king of Jammu, for 75 lakh Rupees under the treaty of Amritsar March 1846. The same dynasty of the kings ruled Kashmir till 1947, when democratic rule began.
The earliest source of Kashmir history reffered by Kalhana in his Rajtarangini written in 1148-49 AD, is Neelmat Puran written in 6th century AD. The Nilamata or teachings of ‘Sage Nila’, the chief of Nagas is the oldest extant record which deals with the legends regarding the origin of Kashmir and the sacred places of Pandits. Kalhana also refers to it also as the book of rites and festivals prsented by Nila for Kashmirians. (Nilmata, or the teachings of Nila, Sanskrit text with original notes, edited by Dr. K. De Vrees- was published at Leiden -Holland by E.J.Brill in 1936).
It has been noted that Kashmiris possesed from earliest times a sense of recording their chronicles in contrast to writing sacred tails interwoven with historical events like rest of the Indians. Though Rajtarangini is also not free from unbelievable fables, myths and fantastic occurances, yet Kalhana says in the introduction that historian alone can be reliable and deserves respect who, like a judge, stands above personal predilections and states facts in a detailed manner. Kalhana was followed by other historians in the time of king Zain-ul-abidin Budshah (1422-72 AD) Jonaraja and Srivara brought down the narrative to their own days in their works known respectively as Rajavali and Zain-Rajtarangini. The task was taken up again by Prajyabhatta, who wrote Rajavalipataka in 1512 AD and by Shuka in 1506 AD. With these ended the writing of Kashmir history in Sanskrit verse. Among the chroniclers who wrote in Persian the distinguished ones are Mulla Nadiri, Mulla Ahmad Kashmiri (both in Badsha’s time), Qazi Ibrahim (1514 AD), Sayyid Ali (1537 AD), Mirza Haidar Dughlat (1545 AD), Mulla Hasan Qari (1580 AD), Hasan bin Muhammad alKhaki Shirazi (1610 AD), Baba Daud Mishkwati (1658 AD), Haidar Malik (1659 AD), Narain Koul (1710 AD), KH. Mohammad Azam Dedamari (1747 AD),Mir Sadullah Shahabadi (1780 AD),Nizam-ud-din Mufti (1824 AD), Baha-ud-din Khanyari (1827 AD), Mohammad Haidar (1840 AD), Birbal Kachru (1850 AD), Mirza Saif-ud-din Beg (1857 AD), Muhtashim Mirza, Muhammad Zaman Nafi, Sohan Lal (1831 AD). The Kashmir history has been completed filling the missing links and brought uptodate by authors notable among them being Pirzada Hasan Khoihami (Fazili) (1898 AD) who flourished by the end of nineteenth century, besides Mohi-ud-din Miskeen Kubravi (Saraibali), Prakash Ram, Hargopal Kaul, Munshi Mohammad Din Fouq (1910 AD), Pandit Prem Nath Bazaz (1941 AD), G.M.D. Sofi (1949 AD) and P.N. Kaul Bamzai etc.
Thus it is seen that the Kashmiris have surpassed many Indians in maintaining unbroken record of their past events, achievements, failures. myths and prejudices. Some outsiders also have published books on one or other aspect of Kashmir’s past but their sources mostly have been the Kashmir chroniclers.
There is sufficient evidence that Kashmiris in ancient and early medieval times had achieved the pinnacle of glory in different walks of life. In historical times, Kashmir has not only been a great seat of learning but its gifted sons have carried the torch of culture far and wide in the known world.
Kashmir scholars have excelled in all the three periods of Hindu, Buddhist and Muslim rulers. Kashmir should be proud of a galaxy of great men and women who lived in the past as well as are living in the present
The Scholars of the Pre Islamic Period:
Rishi Kashyapa – the patron saint of Kashmir, who drained off the waters of the lake called Satisar through prayers and penances; Nagarjuna -the great Boddhistava, Kalidasa the renowned dramatist, Srivasarma,Ratnakara, Anandavardhana, Kallata pupil of Vasgupta, Sivasvarmin, Datatarya, Gunaditya, Mankha, Bilhana, Shambhu, Jalhana, Kumarajiva, Dida – the ancient queen; Suvya the ancient engineer; Badshah the noble king; Kalhana, Jonraja, Srivara, Prajayata (the ancient historian), Vasu Gupta and Utpala Deva, Abhinovogupta and Som Deva- the Shaiva philosophers; Ksemendra and Prakash Bhat- the ancient poets.
Datatarya Munishwara (Koul)- the embodiment of Hindu Trinity- Brhama the creator, Vishnu the protector and Shiva the destroyer– all the three in one. His birthday falls on 10th Maghar (His name means given to Gods). He has been the teacher of Ram and on his name there is a temple in Allahabad and his progeny the Datataryas are spread all over India.
Prince Gunavarman, a painter-missionary from Kashmir, was probably a pioneer in the Southern Asiatic route to China, Korea and Japan. The Kashmir of his age (400 BC) was also the seat of the University of the Buddhist Kumarajiva, who came all the way from Tukharistan of Kucha (near Khotan)- which corresponds roughly to the present Badakhshan-to Kashmir to learn Sanskrit and various Indian sciences which he later took over to China.
Nagarjuna -the great Bodhisatva lived in Harvan in the time of Kanishka (AD 78) who extended his empire as far on South as Vindhyas and upper Sind. He annexed Kashmir and was a Buddhist by faith and had his capital at Peshawar. He errected numerous monuments in Kashmir and built the town of Kanishkapora ( modern village of Kanispor about 10 kms. from Baramulla). Under his patronage the 3rd Council of the Buddhist Church was held , which carried on its deliberations in Khandalvan Vihar, near Harvan Kashmir in about 100 AD under the presidency of Nagarjuna and drew up the Northern Concern on ” Great Vehicle of the Law”. Nagarjuna flourished in the 1st century AD. He was a great Buddhist Alchemist and celebrated teacher elevated to Buddhisattvaship and is the founder of the Mahayana system, which is said to have been introduced in to Tibet. He is represented as at once a philosopher, a physician and an author of great ability. Perhaps fifferent Nagarjunas have been mixed in one.
In popularising the revolutionary ideas of Gautama Buddha in India and beyond its borders Kashmiri scholars have played a significant role . With the torch of enlightenment they travelled in different places in the east, the west and the north. Everywhere they served as harbingers of a new age of emancipation. Kamurajiva spread the message of Mahayana Buddhism in China for which the Chinese Emperor conferred the title of Tugsheo (though young in years but ripe in wisdom) on him. An artist Gunavardana followed him to paint jatka stories in public halls in china. Gunavardana was also sent to Sumatra, where he converted the royal family to Buddhism, which prompted the entire population of the island also to adopt the new faith. Another missionary, Virochana converted the people of Khotan and parts of Gandhara (now NWFP and east Afghanistan) to Buddhism.
When neo- Brahmanism raised its head in the 4th century AD, the talented Kashmiris instead of surrendering to reaction evolved a new philosophy– Shaivism– which is the product of the fusion of Vedic and Buddhist philosophies. Its first great teacher was Vasugupta born in 9th century AD., who wrote Shiv Satra Vimarshini. He was followed by Kalatabhata author of Spandra Viritti. Then came stalwarts in succession like Somananda- originator of Pritibhinya school, Utpaldeva who wrote Strotsavali and the last but the greatest of them all Abhinavagupta, who composed among others the dazzling treatise Parmathesara.
Kalidasa-(500-600 AD) It was during the troubled times of the Huns, that Kalidasa, one of the greatest poets of India was born in Kashmir. The white Hun Mihirakula seized the throne of Toramana, the Hun empire had established in the latter half of the 5th century in Afghanistan and western India. Mihirakula succeeded in 510 AD, his capital being Sakala in Punjab which may be identified with Sialkote according to Fleet or with Sangala hill in the Sheikhpora district or according to Anspach Jandiala in Amritsar district of the Punjab. He was a man of violant acts and resembling death, whose approach the people knew ‘by noticing vultures, crows and other birds which were flying aheasd eager to feed on those who were to be slain. His revolting acts of cruelty became so abhorrent that the native princes formed a confederacy and under the leadership of Baladitya of Magadha and Yasovarman of Central India inflicted a decisive defeat on him. Mihirakula fled to Kashmir, where he was recieved kindly by the king and placed incharge of a small territory. He repaid the king’s kindness by seizing his throne and putting him to death. Then issuing from Kashmir, Mihirakula attacked and conquered Gandhara and drowned multitudes of people in the Indus. Kalhana depicts him in the blackesr colours of cruelty as being surrounded day and night by thousands of murdered human beings. Mihirakula delighted in activities of cruelty and people still point to a ridge (Hastivan–from hasti, elephant and vanj, to go–the passage for elephants on the Pir Panjal range near ‘ Ali Abad Sarai’, where the king to amuse himself, drove 100 elephants over the precipices, enjoying their cries of agony. He favoured Brahmans and hated Buddhism. He commited suicde, overpowered probably by the sense of his own misdeeds.
In these very troublous times Kalidasa flourished during the latter half of the 5th century or 1st half of the 6th century. He has reffered to thew Huns in Kashmir in Raghuvamsha. Kalidasa left his home during the unsettled days of its occupation by the Huns, and travelled throughout the length and breadth of the country halting perhaps much longer at Ujjain than at other places. The personal religion of Kalidasa was Kashmiri Saivism based on the doctrine of the Pratyabhijna philosophy, unknown outside Kashmir. In a remarkable discovery, it is pointed out that the drama of ‘Shakuntula’ is an allegory of the tenets of Pratyabhijna philosophy of Kashmir.
The Chinese scholar traveller Hieun Tsang and Oukang visited Kashmir (in 631-633 AD) to study the Sanskrit texts.The 6th century king of Kashmir, Matrigupta was himself a poet and patron of learning. Among the best literary crfitics of ancient India, Bhamaha, who lived in the begining of the 8th century AD, wrote Alamkara- the earliest work of poetics; Udbhatta- the court poet of Jayaprida defined 41 ntypes of speech in his Alankarsamgraha. Vamana another writer of poetics also adored the court of Jayapida. The fame of Anandavardhana, who lived during the rule of Avantivarman, rest principally on his treatise on the science of poetics.
Tradition has it that the great Sankaracharya (788-820 AD) visited Kashmir early in the ninth century AD after his blows to Buddhism in the rest of India and that he was forced to accept the superiority of Kashmir Saivism over his vedantic thought although there exists no internal evidence in any way of his main works to this effect. Probably it was some one else, his namesake.
Shankara, who -there are reasons to hold-was influenced by contact with early preachers of Islam in the South, gives definite indication of such influence in his emphasis on monoism, his insistance on action rather than mere devotion, on purity of purpose rather than mere rituals. It may be that each element in Shankara’s thought was separately derived from Upanishadic sources but the peculiar composition of these elements and the shifts in emphasis of thought and action can be most easily explained by these new contacts with Islamic preachers down South where in Khaladi or Kelati in Kerala the birth place of Shankara, the ruler had embraced Islam.
The remarkable revival of Sanskrit learning was witnessed in the reign of Avantivarman (855-883 AD). Sivrsvarma was one of the genious of Avantivarman court. Some of the others were (1)Ratnakara- who wrote the Hranjaya in 50 cantos and lived under two kings viz, Jayapida (751-782 AD) and Avantivarman (885-883 AD); (2) Anandavardhana, the author of Dhanyaloka (3) Kallata- the great pupil of Vasagupta- the originator of the Sandasastra division of Kashmir. Sivasvarmin is credited with the authorship of seven Mahakavyas- several dramas, prose works and other writings. But the Kaphinabhyudaya and a few stray verses make up all that is left to the student to read and admire. Swamivarmin’s work assumes an importance in the history of Sanskrit literature in general and the literary history of Kashmir in Particular in as much as it helps to show the development of Kavya in Kashmir and the influence of Ratnakara on his contemporaries. Its theme is niether Puranic nor epic, nor historical, but it deals with the Buddhist legend of King Kapphina, one of the great disciples of the Buddha. The Kapphina bhyudaya, which remained in obscurity for the last millenium or so has been made available by the University of Punjab (Lahore). It has been for the first time, critically edited by Pandit Gauri Shankar (Lecturer Govt. College Lahore 1937)
Kashmir became the land par excellence of the Saiva faith-based on the principles of idealistic moism (advaita) which was founded by Vasugupta towards the end of 9th centuryAD. The teachings are now lost, but Somananda, Abhinavgupta, Utpala and others wrote works and learned commentaries of Saivism, explaining its doctrine and dogma and on the Gita. The philosophy of Tryambaka school popularly known as Trika Shastra -the threefold science= is peculiar to Kashmir. Abhinavgupta’s Tantra Laka and Pratyabinja-Virmarsini though acclaimed to be mere expositions of Pratyabinja- Sutra by Utpala are original works of high merit., says P.N.K.Bamzai. According to Dr. B.N.Pandit, ‘Kashmir Saivism is the only philosophy which can inspire for both material and spiritual progress.’ Abhinavgupta (933-1015 AD) was a profilic writer and a versatile genius-poet, critic, philosopher and saint-who wrote more than 40 books, some of which exist. As a literate a grammarian he paved for himself a unique place of honour in Indian aesthetics extended over a quarter of century.
Abhinavgupta-the Kashmir Saiva philosopher and literary critic was born between 950 and 960 AD in a Brahmin family that had migrated from Qannauj to Kashmir during the reign of King Lalitaditya. Abhinavgupta was a voluminous writer on several subjects- dramaturgy, rhetoric, philosophy and the philosophy of the poetry. His contribution to the Saiva philosophy is very great in volume and importance. According to a tradition he walked with 1200 disciples in to the Bhiram cave about 8 kms from Magam, midway between Srinagar and Gulmarg and was never seen again.
Kshmendra– The ornament of Sanskrit poets of Kashmir, was born in the days of Ananda, on the Dal in the locality where the Nishat Bagh stands now. Kshemendra’s father was Parkasendra, a rich , charitably disposed and learned Brahmin. the literary career of Kshemendra runs from 1037 to 1066 AD. He was one of the 3 sons of his father. He stdied under several teachers, but the most noted was Gangaka. Kshemendra’s studies wererwide extending to Hindu Law, Sanskrit grammer, Aurveda, politics, music and painting. He underwent a course of manual training too and knew carpentery and smithy as well by the time he was 25 years of age. Then Kshmendra married and had a son called Somendra, Ananda engaged him to teach his sdon Kalasa.
Kshmendra was noted for his learning and wealth, his sagacity and generosity in maintaining boarding schools and for his humility. He enjoyed life too. His book Darpadalama (Pride has a fall), Desha Upadesko (Advice about thge country for foreign students) are well known. He is reputed to be the author of many books, of which 34 believed to be obtainable have mostly been printed at Nirmayasagara Press Bombay. Kalhana has crtisized his Napavali for the classical error. He also charges him with ‘consistent carelessness’. Keith has discussed Kshmendra’s Bratkathamanjri and other works at length.
The course of studies of Kashmendra, a pupil of Abhinavgupta embraced all arts and sciences then known in India. A many-sided scholar like Abhinavgupta, Kashmendra wrote poems, navaratina, didactic and satiric sketches and treatises on rhetoric and prosidy. He made a notable contribution to fable literature with his Brithat Kathamanjari in which he preserved for posterity the lost classical work of Gunaditya, credited to be the earliest story narrator of the world. In Samayamlatyoka (the ocean receiving rivers of stories from different sources) by the contemporary, somadeva, is a collection of stories based on the Kashmiri version of Guvalitya’s Brihatkathamanjari and an important landmark of world folklore, in so far as it contains most of the stories of ‘Panchatantra’.
Manka: Manka was another poet of this age. He was the fourth son of his father Vishovrata, the son of Pandit Mammata. Mankha was a pupil of Ruyyaka, the celebrated author of Alankara-Sarvasva. Mankha rose to the post of Director of Dharmartha and foreign Minister. Raja Sussala looked upon him as a philosopher. Mankha wrote his first book ‘Srikanthacharita’ when 25 years of age, probably in 1039 AD. It consists of 14 chapters and has 2500 couplets. In Jayasimha’s Time Mankha was the head of a college. Like Mulla Tahir Ghani he hated flattering others and had quite an independent mind.
Bilhana: Bilhana, a great poet, senior to Kalhana in age was born in Khunmoh 11 kms. from Srinagar. His father was Jyeshtha. On completing his education and finding no scope for his talents, on account of the oppressive rule of Kalasa, Bilhana at the age of 16, is stated to have left Kashmir by way of Punch, and entered the Punjab, visited Lahore and Jullundur. Then he moved to Mathura, qannauj and halted at Kashi, where his fame as a grammarian attracted notice. He also appears to have been to Chhatrakota, Prayag, Anhilvad and Nasik. At Kalyana, in the Deccan, there seems to have been a little romance with the Raja’s daughter whom Bilhana had been engaged to teach. A Kashmiri Pandith, as such no doubt, a handsome youth, accomplished, scholarly, he could not fail to win the heart of the princess and the assent of Raja and the Bilhana’s marriage took place. Ultimately Bilhana succeeded to the gaddi. But Keith is silent on this romance.
Bilhana is the author of (1) VIKRAMANKADEVACHARITA , (2) KARNA- SUNDARI MALA &(3) CHAURAPANCHASIKA. General Cunningham traced the first And Dr. Buhler the vsecond of these works. When Bilhana revived his desire to return to Kashmir, Harsha deposed Kalasa. Tradition has it That he returned to his village Khunmoh and died there at the age of 80. But there is no effective evidence to substantiate this claim.
Bilhana is not much good at history. He is a poet whose language is simple and clear. He gives a beautiful glimpse of the Srinagar of his days in the slokas of the 8th chapter of his Vikramanka-devacharita on the adventures of Vikrama.
Kalhana: Kalhana Pandit, the author of the celeberated saga of Kashmir called the Rajtarangini was the contemporary of Raja Jaysimha. This was the time when in England Matelda was a fugitive and the barons were at war with one another. Kalhana’s metrical history of the Raja’s of Kashmir, written in Saka 1070 or 1148-49 AD or 543-44 AH is a well known work in the Sanskrit language. Kalhana was the son of Champaka, the minister of King Harsha of Kashmir (1079-1101 AD). Kalhana claimed to be a poet and historian and was no doubt skilled in both capacities. He attempted to give his readers a complete history of Kashmir and though like most of the medieval historians he combined fact with fiction, his , he ‘sincerely endeavoured to consult the various sources of history’.He was well versed in the literary and historical traditions of ancient India and was likewise an erudite scholar. Kalhana’s earlier chapters are ‘a melody of confused traditions and fanciful imaginations’, but he exercised ‘independence of judgement combined with strict impartiality and unsparing criticism in regard to conteporary events and persons including kings, officials and priests’.
In spite of all this, says Aurel Stein, Kalhana must be treated with critical caution, as ‘his chronology is unavailable, his sources of information discrepant, and his frame of mind didactic’. To sum up, though the Rajtarangani avowdly belongs both in form to substance to the literature of artificial poetry, its merits as an historical composition are many and undoubted, says Dr, Goshal. Kalhana was a Brahman by caste. He was a worshipper of Siva and an admirer of Budha. The name Kalhana is derived through Prakrit Kalhana from Sanskrit Kalyana, meaning ‘happiness’, ‘blessedness’.
The Rajtarangini: (River of Kings)
The Rajtarangini was begun by Pandit Kalhana in 1148-49 AD and completed sometime in the following year. As R.S. Pandit says,it was written about half a century before the dereat of Prithvi Raj Chauhan and nearly two centuries before the advent of Shah Miris. It comprises eight cantos. Each canto is called a Taranga or Wave. The number of verses in each canto or Taranga is (i) 373, (ii) 171, (iii) 530, (iv) 720, (v) 483, (vi) 368, (vii) 1732, (viii) 3449.
Many translations have been made of the book, first by King Zain-ul-Abidin in to Persian second ‘Bahr-ul-asmar by Mulla Abdul Qadir Badauni ordered by Akbar,third by Haidar Malik Chadura-Jehangir’s period, fourth in 1835 AD by Asiatic Royal Society of Bengal Calcutta, fifth in 1852 in French by Societe Asiatique Paris, Sixth in 1892- a critical edition by Sir Aurel Stein- published 1924 AD, Seventh in 1935 by Ranjit Pandit-(complete translation poetry in prose)
Mammata poet (of 12th century AD): Mammata and his two brothers occupy a high position in the literary firmament of Kashmir during the begining of 12th century AD. Mammata, the second son of the scholar Jaiyata bhatta hails from Galandar, near Pampurnoted for saffron. Jaiyata is the elder and Uwata the younger brother of Mammata. Although all the three were noted litterateurs, Mammata was the most distinguished of all. His book ‘Kuvya-Prakasa’ on posody set for the higher examinations of the Sanskrit language. eighty seven commentaries are known to have been written on the ‘Kavya-Prakasa’ of which twety five are available. Mammata is supposed to be the maternal uncle of Harsha, the great poet king of Qannauj. THe ‘Subda-Vyapara-Vichara’ in which the usage of words has been discussed in another well-known book of Mammata. Mammaladevi was the mother of Harsha. Thus Harsha naturally visited Kashmir for contact with Sanskrit Scholars of Srinagar.
Sage Nila is the king and author of Nilmat Puran- the earliest source of history reffered by Kalhana in his Rajtarangini.
Kashmir has been a seat of learning from ancient times. For more than 2000 years, Kashmir has been the home of Sanskrit learning and from this small valley have issued masterpieces of history, poetry, romance, fables and philosophy. Mentioning that Kashmiris have reason to be ‘ justly proud of the literary glories of their land’. Sir George added that ‘Kashmir was for centuries the home of the greatest Sanskrit scholars and at least one great Indian religion Saivism’
Mankha wrote his famous poem Srikanthacharita- narrating a Puranic legend of Siva- between the years AD 1135 and 1145. A dictionary called Manklakasha is current in Kashmir.Other celebrated writers in Sanskrit are: Bilhana, Shambhu, Jalhana and Kalhana. Of these Kalhana and Jalhana were the prized luminaries at the court of second Lohara dynasty. Kalhana is famous for Rajtarangini- the celebrated chronicle of the kings of kashmir which he composed between the years AD 1148-50.’ A literary production of high merit’. A contemporary of Kalhana, Ruyyaka authored Alankarasarvara- a standard work on figures of speech.
Brahman’s Cultural Contribution Summarised:
Kashmir’s Brahmans acquired great proficiency in Persian under Muslim rule and distinguished themselves as great poets and prose writers. Such people did great service to Sanskrit literature and Kashmir was one of the most notable seats of learning in ancient India. Scholars came from far and wide to complete their studies. The great names of Nagarjuna, Kalidasa, Kshemendra, Bilhana, Mammata and his brothers, Manika and Kalhana. The philosophy of poetry has in fact originated in Kashmir. As a matter of fact, Bilhana asserts that saffron is the seed of poetry and as no other province in India produced saffron, Kashmir alone is the true home of poetry. Apart from Sanskrit poetry and prose, the branches of learning that recieved most valuable contributions from the early forefathers of the Kashmiris were prosody, grammer, Saiva philosophy, Buddhist philosophy, history, fairy tales, biographies, tantras or scriptures of Saivism, AZyurveda or medical science and commentaries.
Out of the sixteen most famous rhetoricians of India, Kashmir has produced fourteen and rest of India only two. Vamana (700-800 AD) the founder of the Riti School, Udhhata (774-813 AD) the teacher of the theory of the three Vrittis, Abhinavagupta the great expounder of the theory of Rasadhvani and Mammata (1100 AD) the upholder of the Rasa theory were all Kashmirians.
In fact Bhatta in modern Kashmiri is Bata- a Brahman or a Kashmiri Pandit. Bhatta is derived from the Sanskrit word ‘Bhartar’, which in Prakrit form gave Bhatta, which has been retained by Sanskritists ans appended to proper names at the beginning or at the end. It was used in the sense of learned and signifies a learned Brahman or a great teacher.
Kashmir Shaivism known as Trika-Shasana, Trika-Shastra or simply Trika, is a type of idealistic monoism (adavita). ‘It made its first appearance in Kashmir at the beginning of the ninth or perhaps towards the end of the eighth century AD’, says Mr. Jagdesh Chandra Chatterji in his ‘Kashmir Shaivism’.
Kashmir Shaivism has two branches (i) the Spandasastra and (ii) the Partyabhijnasastra. The authorship of the first says Sir Ramakrishna G. Bhandarkar is attributed to Vasgupta and his pupil Kalka who lived in the reign of Avantivarman (855-883 AD). The two principal works of the system are Shivasitram or Shivasutrani and Spandarikas which are 51 verses only. The founder of the Pratyabhijna school of Kashmir Shaivism was Sumananda who also wrote the work called Shivadrsti. But the principal treatise of the school was composed by his pupil Vdyakara and contains verses which are called Sutras. The pupil of the pupil of Samananda was the well known Abhinavgupta. The followers of the Spandasastra branch deny the necessity of God’s having attempted prompting cause or a material cause for the creation of the world. Neither do they admit that He is Himself the material cause, nor do they think some principle of allusion generates appearances which are false. God is according to them independent and creates merely by the force of His will all that comes in to existance. He makes the world appear in Himself, as if it were distinct from Himself, though not so really, as houses or even towns appear in a mirror and is as unaffected in it as the mirror is by the images reflected in it. Nor does He exist only as realized in the world which is the conclusion that follows from the doctrine that He is the material cause.
The Pratyabhijna school of Kashmir Shaivism accepts the doctrines of the creation of the world and of the relations between the individual and the supreme soul, as set fourth by the Spandasastra School. But the way of perception of the identity is recognition according to this Pratyabhijna system. The Spanda School mentions the drawing of the form of vision of God on the mind in the course of the meditation and thereby the clearing away of the impurities as the way to realization of the identity with God. The Pratyabhijna school mentions that recognition of oneself as God is the way.
These two systems do not enjoin restraint of the breath, concentration and in the words of Sir Ramakrishnna Bhandarkar, all that ‘course of fantastic external and internal conduct or discipline’, which the School of Shaivism in India ‘prescribe as essential’. In this respect Kashmir Shaivism is very near to Islam as Islam condemns self-mortification as a way to realization. The Islamic way to realization is simple, virtuous living, communion with God and service to humanity by sacrifice of one’s self for others, if need be by shedding his blood.
Kashmir Shaivism has another similarity. As an instance, the case of celebrated Muslim mystic Abu’l Mughith al Husain Mansur-al-Hallaj (244-309 AH i.e. 853-922 AD) may be cited. He said Anal Haq, ‘I am Creative Truth’. Sir Mohammad Iqbal also has repeatedly emphasized understanding the secrets of the self for realization.
THE ISLAMIC PERIOD
The first evidence of Muslim introduction is borne by the presrved chronicle in Sharda script in State Archives Deptartment, which records the visit of two Arab companions of Prophet Mohammad (PBH), who met the king of Kashmir and impressed him to such an extant that he adopted simplicity by selling his crown and fixed (ushur) one tenth of the crops as revenue for the poor. The two ‘sahabis’ are reported to have proceded from here to China as missionary sent by Prophet Mohammad (PBH).
Muktappidya (725-753 AD/ 107-136 AH) also applied to the Chinese emperor for aid against the Arabs who were advancing from their base in Sind and Multan of whom we hear for the first time in connexion with the history of Kashmir (733 AD/115 AH). We may in passing note that Arabs won a victory over Chinese in 751 AD/ 134 AH and acquired Gilgit and other possessions. The history of Kashmir mentions Muslims, a second time when Kalhana represents the younger son and the second successor of Lalitaditya-Muktapida,viz, Vajraditya as selling many men to the Mlechas or Muslims and introducing into the country practices which befitted Mlechas or Muslims. Again from Kalhana’s account it appears that Harsha (1089-1101 AD) supported Turushka (Muslim) captains of hundreds with money, or in the words of Sir Aurel Stein, Harsha had “Muhammadan troop leaders” in his service. Harsha’s rule lasted from 482 to 495 AH/ 1089 to 1101 AD. Morco Polo. the Venetian traveller . also refers to the presence of Muslims in Kashmir about 676 AH/ 1277 AD. Here I would like to add to the historical records of Kashmir that I am in possession of a hand writtem manuscripts from my ancestoral library, which describes the chronogram of One Sayid Baqir, who migrated to Kashmir from Iran along with 1200 Sayids and passed away here and was buried in Thune village near Wusan (Kangan) in the year 655 AH. That means his arrival here has been many years earlier. Another manuscript dates 691 AH written by Sadr-ud-Din Husaini which is Arabic commentary of Sura Fatah and Arabic pamphlet prohibitting smoking. One more old manuscript is Awrad of Hazrat Baha ud Din Zakaria (d 666 AH). All these indicate presence of Muslims in Kashmir earlier than arrival of Hazrat Bul-bul Shah and conversion of king Rinchan Shah to Islam on his hands during 720-724 AH/ 1320-1323 AD. Still two centuries earlier than this event in the 12th century AD the conversion of Dard tribes on the Indus from Buddhism to Islam took place as stated by Stein.
After the defeat of Raja Dahir of Sind by Mohammad bin Qasim in 93 AH/ 712 AD, Dahir’s son Jaisiya went to wait on the Rai of Kashmir. A person bearing the name Hamim, the son of Sama, a Syrian, accompanied Jaisiya to Kashmir. The Rai of Kashmir ordered that , from among the dependencies of Kashmir, a place called Shakalha should be assigned to Jaisiya. Jaisiya died in Shakalha and was succeeded by Hamim son of Sama. Hamim founded masjids there, and obtained great honour and regard. He was much respected by the king of Kashmir. This Hamim . is ostensibly the first Muslim to settle in Kashmir.
It is also worth noting that Muhammad bin Qasim, after the conquest of Sind, came to Multan in 92-94 AH/ 711-713 AD. Here he erected a Jami Masjid and minarets. He appointed Amir Daud Nasr, son of Walid Ummani, its Governor. Then Muhammad bin Qaim proceeded to the boundry of Kashmir called the Panj Mahiyat, at the upper course of Jhelum, just after it debouches into the plains. This is about the time of the caliphate of Walid-I (86-96 AH/ 705-715 AD). It was because of this expected attack of Arabs that Raja Chandra-Ped of Kashmir sought help from Chinese ruler, which he could not obtain. During this period Sulaiman bin Abdul Malik was enthroned, who called Muhammad bin Qasim back to Damuscus and with that the attack on Kashmir got avoided. After Muhammad bin Qasim Kashmir was once again attacked in the period of Hisham bin Abdul Malik (105-125 AH). This time Laltaditya was the ruler of Kashmir, who was the strongest ruler of the Hindu period. He had extended his regime to distant places like Bengal, South India, Sri Lanka and even up to north side Central Asia even upto Siberia.During the Khalifa Hisham the governor of Sind Junaid bin Abdur Rahman (107-111 AH) attacked Kashmir with a heavy hand, but Lalitaditya resisted it strongly. inspite of this the Arabs tried once again and in order to resist it, Lalitaditya was forced to seek help from China. Thouh he could not get this help, he however did not allow Arabs to proceed further. In Abbasi period under the Caliphte of Mansoor, the governor of Sind who was supposed to be the ruler of the Indian subcontinent, Hisham bin Umro al-Taglabi tried his luck upto the foothills of Himalayas and a part of Kashmir came under the rule of islamic rule. Even after the Khalifa Mansoor the Arabs continued to annex Kashmir into the vast Islamic rule but all such efforts did not succeed completely. They however hoisted their flags in the lower areas of Kashmir but the valley escaped from this. Kashmiri rulers were always worried about Arab invasion and that is why they used to be alert on their borders erecting barriers and also asking help from neighbouring countries. However in spite of all these safety measures the valley could not escape from the influence of Islam which was spreading all around. For the Sufis and preachers accompanying the Islamic army, these types of barriers mattered little.
After the end of Arab Caliphate, it was the turn of non-Arab Kings and Kashmir was once again the target of Islamic conquerors and the valley was shaken many a time by the shaking. The process of Arab attacks closed in 142 AH.
Many renowned historians and geographists have mentione about Kashmir in their books like Alyanboei (d 331 AH/940 AD), who reached Kashmir after crossing Zojila pass and has described the scenic beauty of Kashmir and that of its inhabitants in detail. Thereafter other tourist travellers like Abul Hasan Ali Masoodi (d. 346 AH) and Abul Raihan Albiruni who visited Kashmir are worth mentioning. Similarly Mazhar bin Tahir-ul-Muqaddasi an Arab renowned philosopher cum historian describes about the fruits of Kashmir. Again Khirdazbah (d. 300 AH) has described Kashmir as one of the four most noteworthy regions of the sub-continent the other three being Saamil, Hooreen and Gandhara. This proves that Muslim travellers from Islamic countries have been visiting this place in earlier times and that is why, when Sultan Mahmood Gaznavi attacked Kashmir in 424 AH, there were Muslims too among those people who were fortified. Morco Polo the Venetian traveller , also refers to the presence of Muslims in Kashmir about 676 AH/ 1277 AD. The defeat of Lakshman Deva on the hands of Trushka (the Turkish Muslims) in 567 AH/ 1168 AD represents a turning point in the History of Kashmir. After the defeat of this Raja many Muslim Sufi saints got ready to shift to Kashmir.Their simplicity and pure living influenced the people of this region and they received a message of hope from the principles of Islam, of which these Sufis used to preach. Thus Kashmir was not annexed by the armies but the hearts of people were won over by the influence exercised by Muslim scholars and Sufi saints. It is unfortunate that due to unfavourable circumstances, language barrier and unfamiliar culture, the names and efforts of those ancient elders could not be saved in the records of our history who enterd here at the time of the rise of Islam. It was with their efforts that before the entry of Hazrat Sayid Sharf-ud-Din Abdur-Rahman (Bul bul Shah Sahib) the ground was prepared for the spread of Islam.
The first Muslim King of Kashmir:
Sultan Sadr-ud-Din, Rinchan, the first Muslim ruler of Kashmir, a contemporary of Edward III of England, was originally a Ladakhi, also called Tibetan, from western Tibet. He was well disposed towards Islam on account of his contact with Shah Mir, then in the Kashmir service. Rinchan is believed to have actually owed his conversion to Sayid Bilal (Bulbul Shah) in the beginning of 14th Century AD. Bulbul Shah is believed to have visited Kashmir first in the time of Raja Suhadeva, the predecessor of Rinchan. sayid Bulbul shah was a widely travelled Musavi Sayid from Turkistan having enjoyed a long stay at Baghdad. He was the spiritual disciple of Shah Nimatullah Wali Farsi, a Khalifa of Suhrawardi tariq or school of Sufis founded by Shaikh-ush-Shuyukh Shaikh Shihab-ud-Din Suhrawardi. The simplicity of Bulbul Shah’s faith coupled with his own dissatisfaction with what was then professed by the people around him. Rinchan embraced islam at the hands of Bulbul Shah and assumed the name Sultan Sadr-ud-Din and became the first Muslim ruler of Kashmir.
The rule of Muslim kings begins with Rinchan shah. Although he ruled for two and a half years, he laid the foundation of Islam so strongly that the whole country converted to it. On his death his son was very young, therefore his queen Kota Rani married Odian Dev the brother of Sehdev and entrusted the governance to him. The era following renchan Shah is also considered an unstable period. In fact islam established after Kota Rani’s rule. The foundation of it was laid by the famous Shah Mir. These Muslim kings ruled the country with great pomp and show for about 500 years from 1326 AD to 1819 AD. During the rule of Muhammad Shah Durrani, Pandit Birbal rebelled against the subedhar of Kashmir, Mohammad Azim khan and conspired with Maharaja Ranjit Singh, the Lion of Punjab. The Pandit met Ranjit Singh, in person and compelled him to invade Kashmir. he defeated the Muslims in 1819 AD and established the Sikh rule. Thus the susequent rules can be classified as under:
1) 1325 to 1343 AD/ 725 to 744 AH — 18 years- era of instability.
2) 1343 to 1554 AD/ 744 to 961 AH– 211 years-The Sultan Dynasty.
3) 1554 to 1586 AD/ 961 to 994 AH– 32 years-The Chak Dynasty.
4) 1586 to 1752 AD/ 994 to 1166 AH–166 years- THE Mughal Kings.
5) 1754 to 1819 AD/ 1166 to 1234 AH– 66 years- The Afghan Dynasty.
6) 1819 to 1846 AD/ 1234 to 1262 AH– 27 years – The Sikh Dynasty.
7) 1846 to 1947 AD/ 1262 AH to 1366 AH–101 years. The Dogra Dynasty.
The Muslim period also witnessed scholars, saints and poets of great repute, which maintained the fame of the region as a great seat of learning. After the conversion of Rinchan, his brother-in-law and commander-in-chief and several others- according to one tradition 10,000 embraced the creed of Bulbul Shah. A place of gathering for the new converts was set up on the banks of the Vitasta and is known as Bulbul Lankar-(Lankar is a corruption of Langar meaning a hospice) and also the first mosque in Kashmir- reconstructed recently. Bulbul Shah died in 727 AH/ 1327 AD.
OUR GLORIOUS PAST